SPRINGDALE, Ark - Second baseman Jecksson Flores had a big night at the plate but it was not enough as the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (20-26, 55-61) would fall in extra innings to Midland as the RockHounds (18-29, 51-65) take the series finale by a 9-5 final in 10-innings at Arvest Ballpark on Thursday night. Northwest Arkansas still wins the series two-games-to-one and remains 6.0 games back of Texas League North Division-leading Tulsa after their loss to Corpus Christi earlier in the night.
It was a 4-4 affair in the tenth before the visitors broke open the ballgame with a late surge. Naturals' reliever Yunior Marte (L, 2-3) walked Tyler Ramirez and gave up a single to Richie Martin to load the bases before being lifted for Franco Terrero . The hard-throwing righty struck out Seth Brown for the first out in the frame but then it was all Midland after that. J.P. Sportman doubled to right to clear the bases and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Nate Mondou. Skye Bolt then completed the scoring in the top of the tenth with a solo home run off the foul pole in left to extend the RockHounds extra-inning advantage to 9-4.
Northwest Arkansas would get a run back on a RBI groundout by Samir Duenez but that would be it as they fall by a 9-5 final. The 10-inning loss to Midland drops the Naturals overall record to 4-5 in extra-inning games this season.
Kyle Finnegan (W, 1-1) earned the victory for Midland as he fired 2.0 innings of one-run baseball to go along with 2 strikeouts.
The Naturals scored first on Thursday night with a run in the opening frame. Flores recorded a hit then stole second to put himself in scoring position with one-out in the inning. Duenez would then follow with a RBI knock for the early 1-0 lead.
The game remained 1-0 into the fourth when the 'Hounds would take a 2-1 lead as Sportman doubled home a pair. The Midland outfielder led the way for the visitors on offense going 2-for-4 with a couple of doubles and four RBIs.
Northwest Arkansas would retake the lead at 3-2 in the fifth when Flores drove home Nick Heath with a RBI triple off the top of the wall in left field before Duenez brought him home for the second time in the game with a sacrifice fly to left field.
The back-and-forth game continued in the seventh. Midland took a 4-3 lead on a couple of hits and two wild pitches; however, the lead would not last long as the Naturals tied it up in the home half as Flores drove in Erick Mejia with a two-out single.
Flores logged his first four-hit game of the year and went 7-for-11 in the series to raise his average to .326 on the season.
Natural newcomer Jon Perrin got the start for Northwest Arkansas in his debut with the Kansas City Royals organization. The former Milwaukee Brewer, whom was acquired through a recent trade, was just assigned to the Naturals. The big right-hander was solid in his 5.0 innings as he gave up two runs on three hits and struck out four as he left the game in line for a win.
Northwest Arkansas will open a three-game series against the Frisco RoughRiders, the Double-A Affiliate of the Texas Rangers, tomorrow night - Friday, August 10 - with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Gates will open at Arvest Ballpark at 5:30 p.m. for Faith and Family Night Pre-Game Concert featuring David Dunn on a Fireworks Friday presented by Sam's Furniture. The Naturals will turn to the big right-hander Scott Blewett (6-6, 5.59 ERA) in the series opener while the RoughRiders will counter with left-hander Taylor Hearn (1-0, 1.69 ERA) whom was recently acquired by Texas via trade. Catch all of the live play-by-play action on Friday night with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket starting at 6:55 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch at 7:15 p.m. against Double-A Texas Rangers from Arvest Ballpark.
Follow the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Facebook and Twitter @NWANaturals all throughout the year by using the hashtag #NaturalPastime and #CrowntoCrown for all of our up-to-date information on the 2018 season of Naturals baseball.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The Naturals play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark. For more information, including statistics, ticket options, and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.